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SOMEONE ELSE’S INFORMATION ON YOUR CONSUMER CREDIT REPORT?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on December 1, 2015

 

Have you discovered that someone else’s information has been posted on your consumer credit report? It is frighteningly common for the consumer credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union) to mix someone else’s negative credit accounts with another person. It should go without saying that your consumer credit report should be 100% accurate with respect to only your own credit accounts. One common exception to this occurs with married couples who may be jointly liable for each other’s lines of credit, or may be listed as authorized users on each other’s individual accounts. However, when a consumer credit reporting agency is mixing the information for two people with the same name—whether related or not—then the law has been violated. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons that the U.S. Legislature enacted the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act in the first place. The FCRA enforces this principle when it requires the consumer credit reporting agencies to follow reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy of the information “concerning the individual about whom the report relates.” See 15 U.S.C. 1681e(b). This Section requires the agencies to have in place reasonable procedures to ensure that these violations do not occur, and they must follow those procedures. Courts have ruled that it may very likely be unreasonable for the credit reporting agencies to only match names without using any other identifying factors such as date of birth, social security number, address, or the like. Typically, whether an agencies procedures are reasonable, however, is a question for the jury to decide under the circumstances. It is also unreasonable for a credit reporting agency to maintain two files under one social security number, since it is mandatory that each SSN belong to only one person.

Please click HERE to read a complaint that has recently been filed by Semnar & Hartman, LLP against Experian that alleges this very violation—alleging that Experian merged the derogatory accounts belonging to the young consumer’s estranged father into the consumer’s file, which caused him to be outrightly denied the opportunity to apply for an auto loan that he desperately needed.

If you or a loved one have been contacted by this debt collector, please contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation to review your rights.

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THREATENED WITH A LAWSUIT BY FIRST NATIONAL COLLECTION BUREAU, INC.?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 14, 2015

 

Semnar & Hartman, LLP have recently filed a lawsuit against a debt collector out of the McCarron, Nevada called First National Collection Bureau, Inc. for threatening an improper lawsuit against a consumer whose debt had been discharged in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 2006. The FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from misrepresenting the legal status of a debt and also prohibits a debt collector from threatening to take an action that cannot be legally taken. Because the credit card debt had been discharged in Bankruptcy in 2006, the debt had been completely extinguished and any legal ability for the client to be sued on the debt has also been expired by the statute of limitations due to the age of the default on the debt. When First National sent its collection letter repeatedly claiming to be offering to settle the debt and the settlement offer would be revoked if it were not accepted on their terms, then First National implicitly threatened to the client that she could be sued on the debt. Moreover, due to the Bankruptcy discharge, the debt no longer exists anyway. Consequently, a lawsuit has been recently filed against First National to remedy this abusive conduct. A copy of this lawsuit can be read by clicking HERE.

If you or a loved one have been contacted by this debt collector, please contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation to review your rights.

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BEEN HARASSED BY ORACLE FINANCIAL GROUP OR UNITED PORTFOLIO SERVICING?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on September 21, 2015

 

The law firm of Semnar & Hartman LLP has recently filed a lawsuit against these companies for some very egregious violations of the Rosenthal Act and the Federal FDCPA. The client was being contacted on a very old credit card debt that is barred from judgment by statute of limitations. When a debt collector is prohibited from obtaining a judgment by the applicable statute of limitations, the FDCPA requires that the collector not threaten a lawsuit, file a lawsuit, and in many instances cannot even imply that a lawsuit is possible or being considered. The reason is because the debtor is not likely to know that the statute of limitations has expired, and is therefore likely to be misled into paying the debt out of duress just to avoid a lawsuit that in actuality could never have been sought.

The offending companies in this case left multiple voicemails on the cell phone for his client, his mother, and his mother in law claiming that a lawsuit was being filed and process servers were looking for the client. However, all of this was false. A lawsuit had never been filed against the client, and due to the statute of limitations expiring the companies violated the Rosenthal Act and the FDCPA by even claiming one was being considered.

Additionally, the offending companies left voicemails for the client, his mother, and mother in law threatening that the lawsuit involved allegations of fraud and theft of services. Again, these threats were false and violated the Rosenthal Act and FDCPA. A breach of an agreement to pay a credit card (or any other loan) is not a criminal action unless it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the debtor entered into the loan without any intention of ever paying it back. Simply failing to pay the debt is not a criminal action and a debt collector claiming it is a criminal action has violated the law.

A copy of this Complaint can be read by clicking HERE.

If you or a loved one have been subjected to similar such violations, do not take them lightly. Consumer rights are in play to protect the gullible and to prevent debt collectors and creditors from taking unfair advantage of the consumer. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

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MORTGAGE LOAN BEING SERVICED BY ROUNDPOINT MORTGAGE SERVICING CORPORATION?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on August 24, 2015

 

The law firm of Semnar & Hartman, LLP are presently investigating possible consumer rights violations being committed by RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation in connection with its efforts to collect monthly mortgage payments from California home owners. Such possible violations may include the following:

  1. Force-placing into Escrow amounts for anticipated taxes in the future even though the homeowner has a waiver of such items to be paid through Escrow;
  2. Failing to send monthly collection statements informing the homeowner of exactly how much RoundPoint is collecting from the homeowner;
  3. Sending monthly collection statements that indicate RoundPoint is collecting Escrow items for “taxes and insurance” when in reality they are only attempting to collect either taxes or insurance, but not both;
  4. Furnishing inaccurate information to the consumer credit reporting agencies by claiming a homeowner is in default on the mortgage payments when in reality the homeowner has always paid his or her monthly obligation;
  5. Threatening foreclosure if the homeowner does not call to make payment arrangements for amounts that the homeowner does not actually owe.

If you or a loved one have a home mortgage loan being serviced by RoundPoint, please do not hesitate to call us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights as a homeowner and whether those rights may have been violated.

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NEW TCPA RULES ISSUED BY FCC – HUGE VICTORIES FOR CONSUMERS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on July 22, 2015

 

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: “I detest robo-calls. We receive thousands of complaints a month about robo-calls, and our friends across town at the Federal Trade Commission receive tens of thousands more.”

“We applaud the FCC for upholding the essential protections in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a key consumer law,” said National Consumer Law Center attorney Margot Saunders. “The industry petitions [requests from companies to protect their interests over consumers’] would have exposed consumers to a tsunami of unwanted robocalls and texts to their cell phones.”

“We applaud the FCC for holding the line to keep the plague of unwanted robocalls from becoming even worse,” added Susan Grant, director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at Consumer Federation of America.

The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act, at 47 U.S.C. 227) is a statute that prohibits, among other things, unwanted telephone calls with automatic telephone dialing systems, robot messages, and/or pre-recorded voice messages without consent and without emergency purposes, as well as junk faxes and telemarketers calling people who are registered on the “Do Not Call List”. See our page titled “Phone Calls (TCPA Video)” for more detailed information on the statute.

By statute, the FCC has authority to issue rules that interpret and apply the statute itself. The courts are bound to follow the FCC rulings as if they were the statute themselves. Over the years, there has been much heavily-contested litigation over many of the grey areas within the statute and FCC rulings themselves. However, on July 10, 2015, the FCC released its newest ruling and order that clarifies a lot of these grey areas. Many of the rulings are very beneficial to consumers who wish to put a stop to the unwanted harassment that companies engage in.

Consent must be provided by the current subscriber or regular user of the phone number:

“The new user of a reassigned phone number shouldn’t have to put up with being abused by callers for the old user of the phone number,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

One of the hotly-contested issues over the years has occurred when a company intends to call one person who had previously given consent to the company for TCPA purposes, but the company inadvertently calls the wrong person who has since received the first person’s phone number. Courts throughout the country have issued differing rulings, with some courts ruling that the company has no liability when it intends to call a person who had previously given consent while other courts have ruled that the person who is the current subscriber is the only person who can consent to be called upon the phone number at issue. The FCC has issued its ruling in favor of the consumers on this issue.

One of the hotly-contested issues over the years has occurred when a company intends to call one person who had previously given consent to the company for TCPA purposes, but the company inadvertently calls the wrong person who has since received the first person’s phone number. Courts throughout the country have issued differing rulings, with some courts ruling that the company has no liability when it intends to call a person who had previously given consent while other courts have ruled that the person who is the current subscriber is the only person who can consent to be called upon the phone number at issue. The FCC has issued its ruling in favor of the consumers on this issue.

This requirement of consent also applies to the person who is the primary user of the phone number but is not the subscriber on paper. For instance, if the wife regularly uses the phone number that was issued in her husband’s name, then the consent must have been given by the wife as the regular user of the number.

Prior express consent can be revoked via any reasonable means:

Another hotly-contested issue over the years is whether a consumer can revoke consent that had previously been given. Again, courts throughout the country have been divided—with some courts ruling that consent cannot be revoked after once having been given, other courts ruling that consent must be revoked in writing, while other courts ruling that consent can be revoked verbally at any time.

The FCC has once again ruled in favor of consumers. A consumer can revoke consent for TCPA purposes at any time and via any method that is reasonable. That means simply telling the company one time over the phone to stop calling is valid and effective to trigger TCPA liability on every call thereafter. But be careful: as soon as the company asks if they can call you back on your current number and you agree, then consent might have just been renewed. It is best to insist that all communications be in writing, and that any letter from you that requests all calls to cease be delivered via fax or certified mail for proof of delivery, so that there is never any ambiguity or question as to whether consent was revoked.

Additionally, it is important to note that the FCC has denied one company’s request that it allow the company’s to control how consent can be revoked. It is clear that no company, for TCPA purposes, can dictate how revocation can be lodged by the consumer—even if the contract that gave rise to a debt is agreed to by the consumer and that contract gives direction on exactly how the company will accept revocation, then TCPA liability still exists even if the consumer gives revocation in a manner different than how the company has dictated in its contract.

Additionally, it is important to note that the FCC has denied one company’s request that it allow the company’s to control how consent can be revoked. It is clear that no company, for TCPA purposes, can dictate how revocation can be lodged by the consumer—even if the contract that gave rise to a debt is agreed to by the consumer and that contract gives direction on exactly how the company will accept revocation, then TCPA liability still exists even if the consumer gives revocation in a manner different than how the company has dictated in its contract.

An automatic telephone dialing system is one that has the capacity to act as an auto-dialer, even if not used for that purpose:

The TCPA prohibits calls from being placed with an “automatic telephone dialing system” (also known as an ATDS) to a cell phone, when there is no consent or emergency purpose. Note that these types of calls do not trigger liability when the call is placed to a landline….only calls to a landline with robot messages and/or pre-recorded voice messages trigger TCPA liability.

There has been heavy litigation over the years as to what triggers liability under this prong of the TCPA. Many companies use machines that have the capability to act as an ATDS, but claim that an agent manually-dialed the number at the time of calling the consumer. It is now unequivocally clear that the FCC has ruled that such calls are still in violation of the TCPA. An ATDS is now unquestionably defined as dialing equipment that generally has the capacity to store or produce and then dial random or sequential numbers even if it is not presently used for that purpose. Also a “predictive dialer” meets the definition of an ATDS, as it is equipment with the capacity to store or produce and then dial random or sequential numbers, even though the dialer predicts when a sales agent will be available to be subsequently dialed by the equipment to then connect with the consumer who answered the initial call by the dialer.

As it always has, the TCPA provides victims of such unwanted calls a minimum of $500.00 per call as strict liability, and possibly $1,500.00 per call for willful violations. If you or a loved one are fed up with the abusive calls lodged by companies on a daily basis, do not hesitate to contact us for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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ATTENTION MILITARY MEMBERS! HAVE YOU BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST FOR MILITARY STATUS OR MILITARY OBLIGATIONS?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on May 11th, 2015

 

Both federal and California laws protect military members from discrimination. The federal law is called Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERA) and can be found at 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301-4333. The California law is called the California Military and Veterans’ Code and can be found at Calif. Military and Veteran’s Code § 394. Among other things, these statutes prohibit discrimination against military members by employers for their status as military or for performing their obligations as military members. Discrimination by employers can occur by way of refusing to hire the military member; taking adverse action such as discipline, demotion, or refusal to promote, or denial of ancillary benefits; termination of employment; or failing to re-employ upon return from deployment. In order to obtain civil relief, the military member need only show that the military status or military obligations served as a substantial motivating factor in the employer’s decision, and need not show that military was the sole motivating factor. The employer can only then escape liability if it proves that the adverse action would have been taken even if the military status or military obligations did not exist.

The law firm of Semnar & Hartman, LLP recently filed a lawsuit against Enviro-Master Corporation for such allegations of discrimination. The lawsuit alleges that the owner of Enviro-Master Corp’s San Bernardino branch terminated the military member’s employment by sending an email that specifically cited the member’s military obligations as the reason for the termination. The complaint can be viewed by clicking HERE.

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NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC ATTEMPTING TO COLLECT MONEY THAT IS NOT OWED?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on May 2nd, 2015

 

Have you or a loved on been subjected to debt collection efforts by Nationstar Mortgage, LLC upon a mortgage debt that is not owed? The firm of Semnar & Hartman, LLP has recently filed suit against Nationstar Mortgage, LLC and Bank of America, N.A. alleging that Bank of America retained the services of Nationstar Mortgage, LLC to collect upon a defaulted mortgage that was settled by way of short-sale. After foreclosure proceedings had been initiated, but before foreclosure occurred, the consumers completed a short-sale of the home. Bank of America signed documents that specifically states the outstanding debt had been settled and that the consumers were released from any further obligation for owing the difference.

Unfortunately, however, approximately one year after the short-sale was completed, Nationstar Mortgage, LLC began sending letters to the consumers attempting to collect upon the amount that had been forgiven. The consumers informed Nationstar that the debt had been settled by way of short-sale, and Nationstar simply told them to ignore the letters. However, Nationstar continued to send collection letters and even began to threaten foreclosure upon the same home that the consumers had already sold. Even worse for the consumers, Nationstar had also began reporting upon their credit reports the false information that they were still in default on the loan and the loan had been charged off as a bad debt. This false reporting led to the consumers being denied new lines of credit and has prevented them from moving on with their lives after such a difficult period. The Complaint has been filed in the Central District of California and can be viewed by clicking here.

If you or a loved one is being harassed by Nationstar for a debt that is not owed, or if being harassed even upon a debt that is legitimately owed, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation as to whether your rights have been violated.

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HARASSING PHONE CALLS BY WELLS FARGO MORTGAGE

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on April 28th, 2015

 

Semnar & Hartman, LLP is currently investigating claims against Wells Fargo Mortgage regarding harassing telephone calls in connection with their collection of mortgage payments. It is believe that Wells Fargo places harassing robo-calls, autodialed calls, and/or calls with pre-recorded and/or artificial voice messages to consumers who have not previously consented to receive such calls for purposes of collecting upon mortgage payments. In most instances, robocalls and robo text messages violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and generally each violations allows for $500 to $1,500 per violation.

If you or a loved one has received such calls and/or text messages from Wells Fargo Mortgage, we invite you to please contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

TCPA Protections Against Unconsented Robocalls, Autodialed calls, and text messages

The TCPA became law in 1991, putting restrictions on automated calls, autodialed calls, calls with pre-recorded and/or artificial voice messages, and text messages, whether sent for debt collection or telemarketing purposes. In most circumstances, an entity must have a person’s prior express consent in order to make automated or prerecorded calls or text messages. See our “Phone calls” webpage or blog postings regarding TCPA violations for more detailed information.

If you or a loved one have received robocalls or text messages from Wells Fargo Mortgage, we encourage you to fill out our contact form so that we can evaluate your rights. We have experience handling alleged TCPA violations and are committed to providing you answers while holding institutions like Wells Fargo Mortgage accountable. We look forward to speaking with you.

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RECEIVING CALLS FROM TD AUTO FINANCE WITHOUT CONSENT?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on April 21st, 2015

 

Semnar & Hartman, LLP is currently investigating claims against TD Auto Finance, the automobile financial services provider, for placing robo-calls, autodialed calls, and/or calls with pre-recorded and/or artificial voice messages to consumers who have not previously consented to receive such calls, as well as sending text messages without consent. In most instances, robocalls and robo text messages violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and generally each violations allows for $500 to $1,500 per violation.

If you or a loved one has received such calls and/or text messages from TD Auto Finance, we invite you to please contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

TCPA Protections Against Unconsented Robocalls, Autodialed calls, and text messages

The TCPA became law in 1991, putting restrictions on automated calls, autodialed calls, calls with pre-recorded and/or artificial voice messages, and text messages, whether sent for debt collection or telemarketing purposes. In most circumstances, an entity must have a person’s prior express consent in order to make automated or prerecorded calls or text messages. See our “Phone calls” webpage or blog postings regarding TCPA violations for more detailed information.

If you or a loved one have received robocalls or text messages from TD Auto Finance, we encourage you to fill out our contact form so that we can evaluate your rights. We have experience handling alleged TCPA violations and are committed to providing you answers while holding institutions like TD Auto Finance accountable. We look forward to speaking with you.

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MEDICAL DEBT COLLECTIONS TRYING TO COLLECT ON A BILL SUBJECT TO WORKER’S COMPENSATION

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on April 10th, 2015

 

Suffering a significant injury while on the job can be very traumatizing and life altering. Not being able to perform the job that one was once able to perform can cause a serious blow to one’s emotional stability and self-confidence, and the lack of ability to provide financial stability to one’s family is severely unfortunate. Insult to such injury is added when medical debt collectors fail to submit their billing liens to the workers’ compensation board and persist in attempting to collect from the injured employee directly. Thankfully, the law provides protections against such unfair debt collection tactics.

California Labor Code Sections 4600, 5300, 5304, and 5955 provide the basis that the worker’s compensation board has exclusive jurisdiction to handle medical debts that are the subject of a workers’ compensation claim. In order for the medical provider and/or debt collector to seek reimbursement for such services, they must submit a lien to the workers’ compensation board so that the board can determine the appropriate amount of pay for the employer and/or employer’s insurance company to provide. If the medical provider and/or debt collector is not satisfied with the board’s ruling, then their sole remedy is to file a petition for reconsideration pursuant to California Labor Code § 5900 and then appellate review pursuant to California Labor Code § 5950.

However, California Labor Code § 3751(b) provides that medical providers shall not collect money directly from their patients for services to cure or relieve the effect of the injury for which a claim form, pursuant to Cal. Lab. Code § 5401, was filed, unless the medical provider has received written notice that liability for the injury has been rejected by the employer and the medical provider has provided a copy of this notice to the patient. Any medical provider who violates Cal. Lab. Code § 3751(b) shall be liable for three times the amount unlawfully collected, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Semnar & Hartman, LLP regularly ties such unlawful debt collection tactics into a claim for either or both of the Federal or Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts, since those laws prohibit any attempt to collect an unauthorized amount in connection with consumer debts. If you or a loved one are proceeding through a workers’ compensation board claim, but are still receiving debt collection bills and/or phone calls, please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible for a free, confidential consultation about your rights.